June 01, 2016
An extremely predictable listicle published by Thrillist on Wednesday named Philadelphia the angriest city in the United States.
As is usually the case in these hit pieces, Philadelphia is drilled for a litany of magnified incidents that have villainized the city's sports culture for the past 50+ years: the snowballs thrown at a Santa temp worker, the batteries thrown at J.D. Drew, cheering Michael Irvin's neck injury—all the stuff that only aggravates us further because nobody can ever let it go.
Yes, there was the recent Flyers bracelet incident and that nasty dude — from, uh, Cherry Hill, New Jersey — who puked on a kid at a Phillies game. Fair enough, last week's SEPTA-cyclist showdown was an epic case of needless road rage. Yet fans in San Francisco (ranked 8th) and Oakland (unranked) have actually killed each other over sports.
Obviously, these lists are made for fun and not meant to be taken too seriously. The problem is that they usually can't account for much of anything outside of sports, which is competitive in nature and undeniably compromised by mass alcohol consumption.
The sole anecdote Thrillist provides as evidence is a Philadelphian in Boston who, one time, wouldn't bum a stranger a cigarette. If you're health conscious, that's doing a favor.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania last year published the findings of a study correlating angry tweets with poor heart health in the geographic areas where they originated. Information like that would at least help back some of these rankings up.
Meanwhile, Philly managed to be named Lonely Planet's top travel destination in 2016.
The "angry Philadelphian" is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuated by outside observers, at this point. What we have today is much better described as generalized disgust, mainly an ambivalent response to a reputation we embrace and condemn at our own convenience.
Nobody is opposed to the romantic idea of roughing it in a tough, blue-collar city — it supports a tradition of hard-fought development — but we are all appalled by violent crime, Kermit Gosnell, the PPA, some bigoted Mummers, certain aspects of Comcast, and a painfully high wage tax. The destructive underbelly of any city, paired with questionable policies, should get people riled up if it inspires positive action.
I've quoted Rage Against the Machine's Zach de la Rocha in "Freedom" before and I'll do it again, as far as this ranking concerns our great city: "Your anger is a gift." As long as we can all stop doing stupid stuff at sports games and continue to roundly denounce senseless acts of violence, this is actually a bit of an honor, Thrillist. Thank you.